Michael Yon reports:
As we rolled out from dusty Forward Operating Base (FOB) Falcon, I asked how many casualties the unit had taken since they had arrived, from Fort Hood (Texas), in March 2008. The soldiers told me that one Humvee had taken an EFP strike, but that a Private Rafael Martinez had received only a ruptured eardrum.
It represents vast progress to observe that the current rotation in 2008 has lost only two soldiers to an EFP strike. As sad as those losses are, the extreme distinction over the 100 lost in the Dragon Brigade from the previous year is immense and exultant. The area has fallen nearly completely silent. The war has ended. The canary in the mineshaft survived. It is starting to chirp and it is just a matter of time before it begins to sing.
One battalion in the Dragon Brigade was the 2-12 Infantry, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Michael. His right hand man, Command Sergeant Major Charles Sasser, was open to and confident with the press and provided more than just combat expertise. I went on missions with his men, who spent important time educating me about their area when they could have been sleeping. LTC Michael is a native of Guyana in South America. The Guyanese are famously soft-spoken. In fact, Major Kirk Luedeke said of LTC Michael, “Soft spoken guy, but an extremely bright and tenacious fighter.” It was true. The commander seemed gentle and grandfatherly, but he commanded his units with great expertise in what must have been one of the most complicated areas in Iraq. LTC Michael’s battalion took 18 KIAs and more than 150 wounded, mostly during the surge. (2-12 was one of the battalions in the Dragon Brigade.) The 2-12’s old area has fallen quiet now. The soldiers accomplished their mission, though I doubt anyone will ever know how hard they worked.
Read the whole thing – and remember to thank those glorious men and women of our armed forces, and their international and Iraqi allies, who fought so hard to bring this victory to you, my fellow Americans. And, also, the courage of President Bush, Senator McCain, Senator Lieberman and all those others who refused to back down and pressed for victory when many Americans, to their shame, were calling the war a failure and demanding we pull out regardless of consequences.
President-elect Obama will inherit a victory – I hope he knows how to use it.